REPORT | Sheffield Wednesday 1 v 0 Rotherham
SCOTTISH international Steven Fletcher broke Millers’ hearts with a last-gasp penalty to give Sheffield Wednesday their first league home win against Rotherham since 1981.
The derby clash looked destined to be heading for a goalless draw until ex-Owl Richard Wood was penalised for hauling over Lucas Joao in the box and Fletcher kept his nerve from 12 yards to settle the game in Wednesday’s favour.
The Millers may count themselves slightly unfortunate not to have claimed a share of the spoils as Peter Odemwingie volleyed wide and Tom Adeyemi had a goal ruled out at the end of the first half.
Following their narrow defeat at the hands of Fulham in midweek, the Millers made two changes to their starting line-up for the short hop to S6.
Club skipper Lee Frecklington made a welcome return to the Millers engine room as Will Vaulks had to settle for a place on the substitutes bench.
Nigerian international Odemwingie was also handed a starting berth following his three-match ban as Chelsea loanee Izzy Brown was unavailable because of a hamstring injury he sustained at Craven Cottage.
The home side had the first sight of goal when Glenn Loovens’ bullet header forward saw Darnell Fisher and Adam Reach tangle on the edge of the box with the latter tumbling just outside the box as the referee penalised the Millers’ defender. However, from the resultant free-kick, Almen Abdi’s effort struck the visitors’ wall before being diverted to safety.
Minutes later, Abdi’s corner found its way to Joao, who controlled smartly in the box before miscuing his shot but the ball fell kindly for Reach, who drilled an effort goalwards but it was blocked by the ruck of visitors’ bodies en-route to goal.
At the other end, Fisher’s cross was deflected over the bar for a corner before Sam Hutchinson tried his luck from distance but his ambitious effort failed to call ex-Owls ‘keeper Lewis Price into action.
Minutes later, Daniel Pudil’s lay off presented Joao with the opportunity to strike but the Portuguese striker fluffed his lines with a wayward effort which found the home faithful before another Abdi free-kick saw Tom Lees rise highest but he couldn’t control his point-blank header as it blazed over the bar.
In the next phase of play, Joe Newell floated a free-kick which was only half-cleared into the path of Frecklington on the edge of the area but the box-to-box midfielder did not get a clean connection as his shot bobbled harmlessly wide of the target.
Frecklington was in the thick of the action and after his charging run was halted illegally, Danny Ward fired the resultant free-kick into the Wednesday wall as it was deflected behind.
The game sprung into life on the half hour mark when Newell curled in a delightful centre which was inches away from the head of Wood, who would had the goal at his mercy but Keiren Westwood snuffed out the danger. From the resultant quick clearance by the Wednesday stopper, Joao appeared to bundle over Fisher before finding Abdi, who ghosted into the Millers box to screw an effort wide of the target.
Newell launched a swift Rotherham counter attack which paved the way for Odemwingie to win a corner whereby Newell delivered an inviting centre into the danger area and although Adeyemi nodded wide, any goal would have been chalked off for an infringement in the box.
Moments later, Steven Fletcher had a long range effort deflected narrowly wide before Joao rose highest from the resultant corner but his tame header was straight down the throat of Price.
With half time approaching, the Millers had an opportunity to break the deadlock when Fisher’s free-kick was flicked on by Ward into the path of Odemwingie, who pulled the ball down smartly in the box but he couldn’t control his half-volley as it fizzed over the bar.
In a late flurry to the half, Joao bizarrely blasted wide from a promising position before the Rotherham fans were on their feet when Newell’s delightful centre saw Adeyemi get on the wrong side of the Wednesday defence to head home but any Millers’ joy soon turned to despair as the referee blew for a foul in the build-up to the goal.
Half-time- Sheffield Wednesday 0 Rotherham United 0
The Millers were quick out of blocks at the start of the second half and after Newell was floored by Hutchinson near the byline, Wednesday made a hash of clearing Anthony Forde’s free-kick and both Newell and Adeyemi had sights of goal but the home side managed to scramble the ball clear.
Minutes later, Ward’s deft lay off paved the way for Adeyemi to fire a low effort from distance which had Westwood nervously scurrying across goal as it whizzed narrowly wide of the upright.
In the Owls’ first foray of the half, sub Ross Wallace got on the wrong side of Joe Mattock before playing a slide-rule pass into the path of Joao, who worked a yard of space on his marker before dinking the ball over the advancing Price but Fisher was on-hand to blast the ball clear from his own line.
Moments later, Hutchinson screwed a long-range effort wide before Fletcher became the first to see yellow for a hack on Odemwingie.
Just past the hour mark, the Millers fans’ had their hearts in their mouths when Mattock’s attempted clearance saw the ball head towards their own goal but Price dived smartly to keep the ball out.
The Millers were sensing an opportunity and Newell led a breakout from the back which saw Ward attempt to pace away from Hutchinson, who was suffering from injury, but the Wednesday midfielder stuck to his task to prevent Ward shooting goalwards.
With the game in the balance, Joao struck a low effort through a ruck of bodies in the box but Price bravely got his body behind his shot before Mattock’s lovely pass released Ward in the channel and the Millers top-scorer pulled the ball back into the path of Frecklington but his shot from the edge of the box was deflected wide.
Minutes later, Wednesday failed to clear a Forde corner decisively and Newell gave the ex-Walsall winger an opportunity to cut inside before unleashing a dipping effort which fizzed narrowly over the home bar.
Minutes later, sub David Jones’ drilled corner saw Fletcher ghost away from his marker to power a downward header towards goal but Price dived smartly to his left to gather smartly.
In the dying minutes of the game, Fisher was yellow-carded for time-wasting before Hutchinson’s cross saw Fletcher guide a header goalwards but it was gathered by Price on his own line.
However, the game took a cruel twist for the Millers’ in stoppage time when the visitors failed to deal with a punt forward and with no-one taking charge, Joao looked to latch onto the ball before tumbling under the challenge of Wood and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot before brandishing a red card to the ex-Owls defender.
From the resultant spot-kick, Fletcher kept his nerve to drill the ball past the outstretched hand of Price to find the bottom corner of the visitors goal.
Full-time- Sheffield Wednesday 1 Rotherham United 0
Sheffield Wednesday 1
Rotherham United 0
Teams:- Wednesday- Westwood, Lee (Jones 46), Fletcher, Abdi (Wallace 34), Reach, Loovens, Lees, Palmer, Joao, Hutchinson, Pudil (Nuhiu 61). Unused- Wildsmith, Sougou, Sasso, Hirst
Rotherham- Price, Fisher, Wood, Belaïd, Mattock, Forde, Adeyemi, Frecklington, Newell, Odemwingie (Blackstock 69), Ward. Unused- Bilboe, Kelly, Vaulks, Taylor, Ball, Yates.
Referee- T Robinson